Full title: Flea: Adventures in Spontaneous Jamming and Techniques
Approx. 60 minutes
, Chad Smith
(jamming partner on drums
) and host River Phoenix
"I don't wanna imitate anybody or be like anybody, but I wanna be open to everything."
This is a bass
instructional feature starring Flea, the acclaimed bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers
. The feature consists of 2 parts, which are clipped together and alternated. The first part features Flea and his fellow bandmate Chad Smith (drums). Together, they jam
, and although they improvise
100% they still manage to cover a wide range of musical styles
. There's no talk going on here, which means that there isn't any breaks where Flea (and Chad) are discussing what they are playing
or such. The other part features a sort of talk down session
where Flea is interviewed by his friend, the late River Phoenix
. Flea talks about his musical life
in general, his influences
, his various styles
and his philosophies
. Although the focus is mainly contained on a lingual level
, Flea occasionally demonstrates his various techniques
Included (atleast in the DVD version) is also a small booklet
of some of the jams and demonstrations that Flea
performs in the feature.
I'm a bass player
and a great fan of Flea. For years I have admired
his style, and have played along to Red Hot Chili Peppers
records in the quest to develop my style
. I bought the DVD version a few months ago, hoping to learn more, and I certainly did. However, don't expect the same unless you're fairly adept
on the bass. The term "instructional
" is very misleading
. As Flea says in the beginning, he relies (or did at that time at least) solely on his own intuition
and ability to improvise
, rather than on theory
. That means, you won't hear him talk about scales
, or patterns
, or anything else in that lingo. Secondly, Flea does very little to explain verbally
how he executes
his various techniques, especially his slapping
, which I could presume the majority would be interested in. He does demonstrate and slow down slaplines
like Black Eyed Blonde
,Skinny Sweaty Man
and Get Up and Jump
, but again, he isn't instructing
, merely displaying
what he does. Arguably, you could say that this is instructing in itself (and it is), however again I must say that I personally think the term is misleading
in this genre
, and that people could be left disappointed
. Finally, the DVD itself is not very high tech
. I've seen other DVDs where there are slow motion replays
, or tablature
scrolling at the bottom of the screen. None of that here. To conclude, if you're a beginner
on the bass
, or if you want to learn techniques
) and/or theory, I suggest you find a feature which is specifically orientated in that direction.
Well, what DO you get then? Primarily, you get a complete insight in Flea
as a musician
. Every bass player
who is interested in Flea, be it beginner
, can be sure to find out more about the guy. Secondly, you get a great view at the techniques that Flea executes. As I said before, Flea doesn't explain much, he just does it. And if you're familiar with, say the basic concepts
, you can learn tremendously by just watching and listening to him jam
out. I especially improved greatly in both slapping and fingerstyle improvisation
, just by watching him play
. Finally, Flea also gives some simple, but useful advice
on how to improvise with other musicians
. To conclude, Flea doesn't instruct, he presents his style
for you to study
you choose to do with it. You're on your own, but you can still learn a lot.
Techniques displayed by Flea:
Open string droning
"It'll be hard for me and you to talk about theory since neither of us knows a damn thing about it."
- Flea, responding to River who asked if they were going to talk about theory
Tour de Flea: The jam that kicks of the feature is a sort of tour de force of Flea's various techniques. He starts off in a mellow, dreamy arpeggio, using the open strings. He then transcends into a chord strumming phase, which is quickly replaced by some harder fingerstyle playing that gradually becomes faster and faster. The jam explodes towards the end in a furious slap riff.
Slapping: Flea demonstrates the fast slapping/popping technique that has made him famous. It's impressing to hear how solid, yet varied Flea can slap. Towards the end Flea breaks into some fingerstyle which gradually mellows out.
Overdrive: Flea steps on his overdrive box and flows into a bass solo.
Speed Slap: In this jam Flea demonstrates just how fast he can slap, yet still manage to keep it solid and funky.
Envelope Filter: This is probably one of my favorite jams on the feature. Flea steps on his envelope filter box (ala Bootsy Collins) and lays down the funk with his fingerstyle approach. Especially noteworthy is the way Flea uses breaks, chromatic walks and open strings to enhance the funky feeling. A perfect example of a jam you can learn a lot from by just listening.
Light Slapping: A short little jam where Flea slaps primarily on the D and G string, something which is harder than you may immediately think.
Mellow: Flea jams softly and slowly, using both chords and open string arpeggio.
Jumpy: A soft, sort of jumpy riff. Probably the most awkward jam, which never really gets time to develop.
More Envelope Filter: Flea once again lays down the funk with his envelope filter. This time he incorporates chords and slapping. People claiming that Flea's technique suck should shut up and listen to this.
, Flea uses his black Music Man Stingray
bass in this feature. His cabinets are from Mesa Boogie
and the head is a Gallien Krueger 800RB
. The envelope filter
is a DODFX25
, which isn't produced anymore, but there's a newer version of it called DODFX25B
. I own the newer version, and I can recommend
it. I'm not sure what the overdrive box
he uses is called.
Flea's bass is not tuned
This was one of the last
features that River Phoenix
appeared in before he overdosed
was with him in the ambulance
when he passed away
. Later on, Flea wrote Transcending
a song from One Hot Minute
which is dedicated to River.
1) The DVD version of the feature.
2) My head.